Thursday, March 1, 2018

Five Important Things Every New Writer Should Know!

So . . . where do you get your ideas?

Welcome Newling!

First things first, the fact that you're writing is a good thing.  Don't doubt that you have some level of skill and ability.  You were drawn to writing, you’ve written, someone has given you a compliment on your skills, and you enjoy some part of the process

You, Newling, are a writer!

Improving that skill is certainly important, so here are five things you can do to start the ball rolling:

1. Find a beta team—Tet two or three people who are willing to work with you, read your early drafts and offer you honest, critical feedback.  Make it very clear what you want from them, the kind of commitment you need, and don't be upset if you get turned down.  A LOT.  I've built mine up over the years, and now I have two main betas with four others who come in and out depending on the point of view I want/need. 

2. Join a critique group—This can be alternately or in addition to a beta team.  Too much criticism isn't a good thing.  You can't please everyone all the time.  But a good crit group can really help.  I always recommend  You have to put in effort with them, and they're brutally honest, but your writing will be better for it.

3. Join writing groups—Facebook has become the author’s harbor.  There are groups for every kind of genre, sub-genre, and genre-trope.  Find a relatively small group with active participation and limited-to-no tolerance for ads and join.  Ask questions, ANY questions.  The only dumb questions are those that you don't get answered.  They may have been asked and answered before, but not by you, so go ahead!  The only way you can learn is to get that information.

4. 10,000 Hours—It's a bit of cliche, but the more you do a thing, the better you get at it.  You may not be the BEST at it, but you will certainly be better than competent.  It does take time and effort, and certainly practicing the right kinds of things.  Hence the above and below advice.  Write, write, and keep on writing. Stretch yourself, try writing in new genres, submit to contests—ESPECIALLY those that offer feedback—attend conferences, take up writing challenges and writing prompts.  Above all write, write, and keep on writing.

5. Reading as Research—You probably already do this, but if you're not reading in your genre, and in related genres, START.  Read the classics, read the most popular stuff, read the most influential stuff, read the very obscure and highly recommended stuff.  It's all a manual on how to write what you want to write.  If you find authors your truly admire, follow them, subscribe to their newsletters, pick up their guides, read their essays, watch their panel discussions on YouTube.

Most writers who have been at the game for some time know that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.  There are always going to be a few curmudgeonly or better-than-thou souls who find new writers and their questions annoying and frustrating.  Avoid them, don’t engage, and move on.  In the future, you may find yourself sitting next to them at an awards banquet or a convention panel!

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